Submitted by Rev. Dr. Don Longbottom, Conference Minister
Recently I have been involved with a family in the process of saying goodbye to a loved one. Over the years, in such times, I have returned to something I wrote as my own father was dying of lung cancer. Saying goodbye is hard but it is also a time of depth. As the Psalmist tells us, “deep calls unto deep.”
Waves pound and crash against the rocky shoreline sending geysers of salt spray upward towards the heavens. Fresh breezes stir the air. The surf moves constantly with a natural cadence creating a quiet roar. The moment is strangely calming. The sea speaks to me of God and eternity.
Barely beyond the breakers whales are rolling with the swells feeding and playing in the waters. The scene is ancient. All is as it has been and will ever be. I am touched by the mystery of creation. Life is eternal.
Years ago Matthew Arnold wrote a sad poem entitled Dover Beach in which he equated the receding tide with the retreat of faith throughout the world. He concluded that we are left “…as if on a darkling plain. Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight while ignorant armies clash by night.”
But the receding tide has its own charms. Low tide is the time when one can play among the rocks and peer into tide pools for a closer look at sea life. The lower the tide the better the time for gathering the shells and stones of memory.
As I write this reflection my father lies dying in a hospital bed. The tides of his life are receding. Low tide is approaching. I feel great sadness and yet it has also been a time of great joy. More than ever before I have had the chance to view the tide pools of his life and to gather memories. My father and I are different, made of different fabric. He is gentler, less driven than me. Where I battle furiously to change my world he quietly acquiesces. The departing tides are drawing more closely together a family flung awry by time and circumstance. And for this to I am thankful.
But this one thing I know by faith and experience. When the tide reaches its lowest ebb…it begins its return. The returning surge of the tidal waters is life unvanquished by death. From the very womb of God, we are nurtured into life eternal.
Through every experience of life, God is waiting if we are willing and even if we are not.
 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
God does not faint or grow weary,
God’s understanding is unsearchable.
 God gives power to the faint,
and to the one who has no might
God increases strength.
 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
 but they who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
May God bless you and hold you close in loving embrace.